by Wolfgang Puck Recipes

A warm slice of quiche lorraine is the ultimate comfort food
Quiche Lorraine: The Ultimate Comfort Food

"Mmm! Something smells good!"

I don't think I've ever heard those words spoken more thrillingly than they were by the great actor and director Orson Welles when he regularly sat himself down to lunch at Ma Maison restaurant in Hollywood, where I cooked back in the late 1970s.

His usual table was near the kitchen, all the better for him to savor every aroma. And he saved his most dramatic interpretation of the line for whenever we were cooking quiche Lorraine as a lunchtime main course. "Let me taste it!" Welles would say, half pleadingly, half commanding.

Of course, you can't blame the creator of "Citizen Kane" for being spellbound by quiche Lorraine. Filled with egg custard, bacon, and -- in more contemporary versions -- Gruyere or Emmentaler cheese, this traditional savory tart from northeastern France is so delicious, satisfying, and comforting that it's irresistible.

Yet, sadly, too many people have been resisting quiche over the past couple of decades. Quiche's popularity led it to become a restaurant cliche. Every place, from health-food cafes to casual bistros to fancy restaurants, had quiches on the menu, and some of them were made badly. The 1982 book "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche" by Bruce Feirstein epitomized the backlash against the savory tart. Suddenly, quiche wasn't serious food.

Well, I'm here to tell you that the time is long overdue for quiche to make a comeback. It's an authentic rustic French dish that is not only simple and versatile but, more importantly, absolutely delicious.

Quiches are easier to prepare than omelets or just about any other egg dish that goes beyond boiling, frying, or scrambling -- especially when you skip making pastry for its shell and start instead with the good-quality store-bought pie pastry available in the freezer or refrigerator sections of supermarkets everywhere. The one thing you have to be careful about is not to overcook the quiche. Gentle baking at 350 degrees F. just until the filling puffs up and turns golden brown will give you perfect results, with a smooth, creamy texture like that of a custard or flan; any longer, and the quiche will turn rubbery and soggy and taste unpleasantly eggy.

Beyond the pleasures of texture and flavor a perfectly cooked quiche offers its wonderful versatility. You can replace the bacon and ham with smoked salmon and onions, lightly poached shrimp or scallops, or any combination of cooked and well-drained vegetables. Try other cheeses you like, too. Serve the quiche hot from the oven, lukewarm, or even cold; it can also be reheated briefly in the oven or microwave.

Add a simple salad and a glass of good dry white wine and you have a perfect, satisfying meal -- one that will have everyone saying, "Mmm! Something smells good!"

Wolfgang Puck's Quiche Lorraine Recipe

Serves 6

Recipe Ingredients

1 pound frozen puff pastry, or 1 round of refrigerated or frozen ready-to-use pie pastry

1 cage-free egg yolk, lightly beaten, for egg wash

1/2 pound sliced organic bacon, diced

6 ounces cooked organic ham, diced

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

3 ounces organic Gruyere cheese, coarsely shredded

7 large cage-free eggs

3 cups heavy cream, or half heavy cream and half milk

1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Recipe Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Following package instructions, thaw the puff pastry or bring the pie pastry to room temperature. Line a buttered 10- or 11-inch quiche pan with the pastry, but do not trim the edges. Line the pastry with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Fill with aluminum pie weights or dried beans and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the foil or paper and weights or beans. Brush the inside bottom of the crust with the egg wash, return the quiche pan to the oven, and bake 10 minutes longer, removing the pan from the oven and leaving the oven on.

Meanwhile, put the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat and cook until crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.

Scatter the bacon inside the baked quiche shell. Scatter in the ham, chives, and cheese.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, cream, nutmeg, and pepper. Stir with a wire whisk until thoroughly blended. Pour the mixture into the quiche shell. With a sharp knife, carefully trim the edges of the shell even with the pan.

Carefully transfer the quiche to the oven and bake until the filling is puffed and golden brown, about 50 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or cold, cut into wedges.


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